Alrighty, I finally have some downtime to catch up on my trip up until today, so here goes:
Oktoberfest! It was a wonderful thing, really. Had more than enough with a litre, but I cheered with strangers and the business was squarely done. Sobered up with more great food at the top of a hill overlooking the festival, headed back to the metro station and somehow ended up at the city square where all the stores were closed and street performers were making their rounds. I caught my night train to Florence and slept like a person who slept well. Man, my similes are just too awesome. Considering there were six of us in that dinky space, I'm rather proud of my sleeping skills.
I woke up to the sound of one of my bunkmates telling me I was now in Florence, so I packed up and made my way to my hostel while still tired as a tired person who just woke up from sleeping on a train. I checked in, showered, and hit the streets. Before I saw any of the major tourist sites, I bought my first of too many gelattos. I couldn't stop eating those godamn delicious ripoffs. If I ended up homeless, I would be forced to sell my body so I could keep eating gelattos instead of spending it on cheap booze and cheaper crackwhores like a proper gentleman of class. In any case, I saw the Duomo, Palazzo Vecchio, Ponte Vecchio, Piazza Dei Pitti, and Pizzale Michelangelo. I walked back to my hostel and ended up meeting Rick and Jackie, a set of friends from Hong Kong. We chatted for a while and they told me all about what they had done while I was siteseeing and talked me into following their day plan.
So the next morning, I woke up and met up with a group of eight others, including a friendly couple from San Jose and six girls (!) studying in Florence and Spain for a bike tour through Tuscany from 10 until 5 with guides Andy and Keith. A bus ride to the countryside was followed by wine tasting at an 11th century castle and winery, a downhill bike ride to an idyllic Italian restaurant, a grueling uphill climb back to the castle, and bus ride back to the starting point. I can't begin to describe the scenery, so the pictures will have to talk for me, but as you've all noticed, there's definitely a lack thereof for the time being. Check back at another time, but I wholeheartedly recommend biking through Tuscany with six college girls to everyone. Met up with Rick and Jackie for dinner where I had the best lasagna of my life, met a few more people back at the hostel, and chilled before getting to bed.
Rome followed the next morning after a brief but beautiful train ride. Checked into my hostel and Romed around. Did everyone get that pun there? Yes? Good. I now officially give everyone the right to punch me in the face if I ever say anything like that again. First up was the Piazza Venezia, followed by the Fontana di Trevi, Pantheon, and back to the Piazza Venezia and then back to the Fontana di Trevi. Completely different sites at night. Went back to the hostel exhausted. Highlight of my first day in town was the weather. It was cloudy, rained for a bit, and warm, which made for perfect conditions for a thunderstorm. Watching lightning streak across the sky while sitting underneath the Pantheon... amazing.
Second day in Rome started with a trip to the Piazza di Spagna before crossing town via the metro line to Circo Massimo. From there, I made my way to Trastevere where I stumbled on an Italian farmer's market filled with free samples. Delicious free samples. Walked back north to see a few street performers at the Piazza Navona, walked east for a third trip to Piazza Veneyia to take an elevator to the top for the best view of Rome, and then walked southeast towards the Collosseo. As the first major bummer of the trip, the Colloseo had closed 15 minutes before I got there. Godamn delicious gelattos... Oh well, gives me an excuse to come back. Took a night train out that night where I was promptly and temporarily adopted by a Swiss German family. But it's okay since I get confused for Swiss German all the time anyway.
I didn't get to meet many people while in Rome, but it was fine and I still enjoyed myself. Thus concludes my thoughts on traveling alone. I'm thinking I shouldn't say anything conclusive about this until I get back home so I'll return to this topic whenever that time comes.
Train arrived in Zurich the next morning (today), I said goodbye to the Haegglig clan, and made my way to Geneva where I met up with my aunt.
Next up! My trek through the Alps, my expired credit card, and confirmation if I extend my trip long enough to be back in London to remember, remember, the fifth of November or end up going home on schedule.